Time, gentleman, please!
North Dakota legislators had introduced HCR 3034 and passed it at the pleadings of Secretary of State Al Jaeger. The old-timer had argued his office needed more time: time to review petitions, time to accommodate legal challenges to ballot measures.
Democracy can be such a fast-moving target, er, process, you know.
HCR 3034 became Measure 1, a constitutional amendment to change one thing: the length of time citizens had to circulate petitions. It moved the deadline for signature turn-in from 90 days prior to an election to 120 days prior, thereby cutting 30 days from the citizens and giving it to the Secretary of State, who assured everybody that his extra time would “safeguard the credibility of the petition process.”
The measure passed two weeks ago, in part because it was conducted in a low-turnout primary election.
Most times politicians avoid citizen input altogether, in their fight against initiative. But in this case, politicians nudged citizens into sacrificing their own advantages to make it easier for the insider class.
It’s admittedly not catastrophic. Worse anti-initiative measures have passed elsewhere.
But could there have been a telltale sign of the malign intent here, not seen by the voters? Nixing those 30 days did at least one crucial thing: it disallowed signature gathering at the biggest and most popular event in the state: the state fair.
Could it be that it was not “time” at issue, but timing?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
P.S. You can follow initiative and ballot access news at Citizens in Charge.